What’s with all the chopping and changing, Mr Baxter?
This whole thing is confusing for the fans and surely not even the players understand where they stand
At the height of Bafana Bafana’s Cosafa fiasco in Limpopo a few days ago, coach Stuart Baxter repeatedly told everyone who cared to listen that he was giving his players international experience.
This sounded very good on the surface but if you listened very closely and paid attention to the Briton, he bordered dangerously close to the preposterous because most of the players at the tournament in Polokwane do not have a realistic chance of having prolonged Bafana Bafana careers.
When he announces the squad for the next Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Libya in September and beyond, Baxter is going to revert to the tried and tested likes of Itumeleng Khune, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Bongani Zungu, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Keagan Dolly, Percy Tau and Sibusiso Vilakazi.
Bar one or two players, I don’t see those who participated in the Cosafa tournament being chosen to do battle against Libya and for the rest of the Afcon qualifiers – and that is where I find Baxter’s comments absurd.The suits at Safa House are going to argue in defence of their coach but the other worry is that Cosafa participation is not going to fully help Under-23 coach Thabo Senong during the Olympic qualifiers because most of the players in Polokwane are ineligible to play in Japan.
Khulekani Kubheka (19), Siyabonga Ngezana (20), Wiseman Meyiwa (18), Craig Webber (20), Gift Links (19), Lyle Foster (17) and Luther Singh (20) will be under 23 when the games begin at the National Stadium in Tokyo on July 22 2020.
In 2020 there will also be the African Nations Championship (Chan) in Ethiopia and we all know that Baxter, if he is still Bafana Bafana coach then, will not be able to select most of the “experienced” players who played in Polokwane because that tournament takes place in the middle of the season.
Chan takes place between January and February and experience tells us that PSL clubs will not be keen to release most of their players because the tournament falls outside the Fifa window and the domestic campaign will be entering the business end.So this Cosafa experience that the players got on their way to lifting the unimportant Plate final makes me ask who it is going to benefit and when?
Bafana Bafana failed to qualify for the Chan tournament that took place earlier this year after they lost to Zambia in the final round of the qualifiers – when Baxter also said he was giving players international experience.
But the only survivors from the two matches against Zambia (Chan qualifier) in this year’s Cosafa side are Bruce Bvuma, Ryan Moon and Gift Motupa – and the rest sat at home biting their thumbs with the experience they gained in those two matches.
Unfortunately most of the players who played in Polokwane will also be sitting at home when the Afcon qualifiers resume in September as Baxter is more than likely to turn to the tried and tested “big guns” who would not have played together for almost six months.The last time the senior Bafana Bafana squad played together was when they lost 2-1 to Senegal during the 2018 World Cup qualifier in Dakar, and Motjeka Madisha is the only player from that squad who played in Cosafa.
After the failed World Cup qualifiers, Bafana played in the Four Nations tournament against hosts Zambia, Zimbabwe and Angola. Only Madisha, Aubrey Modiba, Dino Ndlovu and Moon survived to feature in Polokwane as Baxter continued chopping and changing his team in each and every tournament we play.
This whole thing is confusing for the fans and I am certain that even the players don’t understand what is happening and where they stand because there is no continuity in team selection.
I will be waiting to see how many players from the failed Cosafa tournament will be called up for the Afcon qualifier against Libya to help with the experience they gained in Polokwane and for the sake of continuity.